Class of 2014
Ethan Badger 6-1 185 Sr LB Grand Rapids Christian
He’s the old man of a linebacking core that has emerged as a real strength for GR Christian, with juniors Jack Bates and Mitch Damstra. Badger is a more consistent player this season, as is the defense as a hole, a quick man on the ends. He had three sacks against Forest Hills Northern.
Tommy Doles 6-5 260 Sr OL/DL Grand Rapids Christian Northwestern
The Eagles don’t have a particularly large offensive line, but the biggest player amongst them, Doles, is the lightest on his feet. He doesn’t run block like a finesse guy, though. After an early sack by Forest Hills Northern’s Jacob Howe is Saturday’s playoff game, GR Christian did their best to match up Doles on him the rest of the game. There were no more sacks, as Doles locked horns with the Lake Area’s premier pass-rusher. He also made an impact as as defensive tackle, running around the Huskies’ big center as GR Christian continually blew up the line and kept soph QB Spencer Peterson on the run. Bright future for this kid in the Big 10.
Jacob Howe 6-2 240 Sr DL/RB Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern
A rare career as a four-year starter at a Class A school came to a heartbreaking end for Howe at Grand Rapids Christian. The cruel irony, that this hard-nosed throwback player, out there battling in the trenches as a defensive end or bullying through the line as a fullback, would barely miss a PAT, that least testosterone-necessary aspect of the game, and his team would lose by a point. Despite an Eagles’ game-plan highly cognizant of Howe, he added to his season sack total against the Eagles to give him a dozen on the season. His first-half punting bailed out the Huskies a number of times in the first half when they had trouble moving the ball. His running from the front of the I-formation established FH Northern’s most consistent drive of the game, and set up a 35-yard TD pass from Spencer Peterson to Wyatt Batdorff. His tweener status leaves college coaches wondering, but production matters and he’ll make some coach very happy. And anyone who has read “The System” by Armen Keteyian and Jeff Benedict, knows you need this kind of character athlete to balance out a winning program.
Trent Kujawa 5-9 190 Sr LB Zeeland West
He’s not the first guy you pick out of the Dux lineup with all those big Dutch boys. Once the ball is snapped you sure notice him. Because the linebacker is piling up tackle after tackle. Size is overrated, anyway, when you’re smart enough to be in the right spots, and deliver hits once there. That combination worked well for his older brother, Kyle Kujawa, too. He’s now a defensive back at Ferris State. Trent Kujawa has emerged as West’s top defensive player, giving some pride and identity to a unit that was at times nonexistent last season, but now gives them a chance to beat Grand Rapids Christian on Friday. Kyle Kujawa was a member of Zeeland West’s last state championship team, in 2011. Now it could be little bro’s turn.
Mike Miklusicak 5-9 190 Sr RB/DB Wayland
What’s tougher, tackling this kid or spelling his last name? He was the O-K Gold’s leading rusher in the regular season. MM took it to another level in the Wildcats’ playoff opening win at Plainwell, taking 40 carries for 294 yards and a TD. He’s slippery and tough for one man to bring down. Miklusicak has happy feet but doesn’t waste motion, patient and able to negotiate traffic. He is effective running inside or around the end. He has good speed, but is he a breakaway threats? It would be interesting to see how Miklusicak would fare in a more conventional modern, open offense, without all the help he gets now with two backs in front of him and two tight ends.
Jack Turak 6-2 190 Sr RB/LB St. Joseph
This workhorse back really turned it on the last three games — 40 carries for 184 yards and 3 TDs against Portage Central; 27 carries for 198 yards and and 3 TDs against Mattawan; and in St. Joe’s playoff opening shutout of Sturgis, an incredible 43 rushes for 391 yards and 2 TDs. Turak has a penchant for playing his best against the Bears’ toughest opponents. Prior to this run, his top performance was against Stevensville Lakeshore where he ran 30 times for 142 yards. While he doesn’t have breakaway speed, Turak hits the hole hard, has good leg action, breaks tackles and is going downhill. Those same traits serve him well as an outside linebacker.
Colton VanDyke 6-0 230 Sr OL Wayland
VanDyke is the tip of the spear, the center in Wayland’s old school Maryland I-formation, lined up in front of QB Trevor Clausen, blocker Mason Evers, big back Jack Phillips and speed back Mike Miklusicak. He was quick off the snap as Wayland consistently marched the ball down the field in their 38-28 D3 opener at Plainwell. The key for him is staying on balance consistently. VanDyke moves well and is often out there running right with Wayland’s backs. As ably as he’s able to get into the second level, would like to see him bring the hurt to the linebackers most often.
Class of 2015
Brandon Childress 6-3 185 Jr QB Baldwin
He’s already started three seasons at QB, which isn’t too shocking considering Baldwin is a Class D school. The Panthers made the D8 playoffs to play Fowler for the second-straight season, and this time they acquitted themselves more respectably before falling 19-7. Small school or not, Childress is getting D1 interest for both basketball and football. He’s a true dual-threat QB. In the regular season he had 1,081 yards and 11 TDs passing, and 1,185 yards and 20 TDs rushing.
Mike Parker 6-0 170 Jr WR/LB Muskegon Orchard View
OV moved him from cornerback to outside linebacker and it proved tough to get the edge because Parker may be the fastest player in the Lakes 8. He rarely left the field and was also a standout at wide receiver, catching TD passes from three different Orchard View quartertbacks, a position that was in flux after soph Darece Roberson was injured in the first game of the season (on the opening drive, he returned week 8). When Parker touched the ball, good things happened — half of his 18 catches resulted in touchdowns. He had 677 receiving yards.
Class of 2016
Spencer Peterson 6-4 208 So QB Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern
Good-looking prospect when he lines up, given his size and age. He was under constant duress last Saturday against Grand Rapids Christian. Running and creating isn’t necessarily Peterson’s forte, he looks more like a traditional pocket passer. As hectic as it became for Forest Hills Northern’s offense, Peterson showed confidence in his arm when given a chance and did enough to give the Huskies a chance to win. They led the defending D3 state champions into the fourth quarter. Peterson was 9-of-21 passing for 232 yards, 2 TDs and an interception. At this early juncture, he looks like one of the Lake Area’s more promising QB prospects in the 2016 class.
Early Look Soph QBs
1. Evan Whitmore 6-2 170 So Petoskey
2. Pat Naughton 6-2 185 So Comstock Park
3. Wade Buckman 6-5 190 So Holland
4. Spencer Peterson 6-4 208 So Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern
5. Jacob Buchberger 6-1 170 So Montague